Friday, July 30
Today we woke up at the Via Inn and had a quick simple scarce breakfast, but still good. Then we met in the lobby, went to the train station and took an hour long bullet train to Hiroshima, man was it fast!! When we got there we went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park. The park was very tranquil and profound. It was very meaningful to all of us.
Upon arriving at the park, our first encounter with the devastation of Hiroshima was the once strong city hall, that was considered the epicenter of the city. Rubble cluttered the ground and surrounding area; remnants of what once was the heart of a town strewn along as if they were nothing more then pebbles. Due to the weakness of the parts still standing, the building is relying on large steel poles for support because without them even what had survived the blast would topple over. The basic skeleton of the building's dome still stands as the peak of the barely-there remains and it seemed almost ironic that though it was just the metal framework of the dome, its tallest feature survived the attack. This was a solemn "welcome mat" of sorts that was a foretaste of what was to come.
From there we worked our way down through the Peace park. The peace cranes, and the peace bell. The Peace park is built on an island that used to be part of the city before the buildings were destroyed by the bomb. On the island we saw a hill that covered a tomb for the remains of unidentified victims of the tragedy. There were also several other memorials. Around the island were what I thought were the remains of paved streets, because there were curbs still in the ground. At the end of the island there was the peace bell. All of us rang it. Inscribed in the bell was a map of the world. Where the hammer hit the bell there was the atom symbol. We also saw the flame that won't be extinguished until all atomic weapons are destroyed. Around the flame there were trees that were at the perimeter of the bomb's extent which were transplanted. The back of these trees were still burned from 65 years years ago.
After walking through the museum and listening to the audio program provided for us, we went down to the cafe and got lunch. Every one had something different, some had pancakes, some had spaghetti and others had rice. No matter what it was all good. Then we left and went on another train and onto a ferry to the Utsukushima shrine at Miyajima Island. At this shrine there were deer everywhere and they were not afraid to get close to us and let us pet them. We got to walk all around the shrine and go up close to the big gate because it was low tide. Then we took the train back and got dinner at the train station before returning to our hotel.